Series Preview: The Phillies

Current record: 38-33, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 game back

Up Next: Philadelphia Phillies, 34-40, 5th place in NL East, 9.0 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: The Phillies are not the powerhouse team that has won the NL East for the past five seasons. 1B Ryan Howard has not played yet after rupturing his Achilles in last year’s playoffs. 2B Chase Utley has been out all year with chronic knee issues, but may make his season debut this week. Fill-in second baseman Freddy Galvis is out for the season with a back injury and was just hit with a 50 game PED suspension too. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay is out until at least late July with a strain in the back of his shoulder. Still, the Phils have a few dangerous bats in Hunter Pence (.271/.334/.458) and Carlos Ruiz (.351/.420/.569).

Familiar Faces: Ty Wigginton, Erik Kratz

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Jeff Karstens (0-1, 12.0 IP, 5 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Joe Blanton (6-6, 91.0 IP, 74 K, 5.04 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Karstens makes his return to the rotaion after missing over two months with shoulder and hip injuries.

Tuesday: LH Erik Bedard (4-7, 72.0 IP, 69 K, 4.13 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Vance Worley (3-4, 68.0 IP, 61 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Wednesday: RH James McDonald (6-3, 90.1 IP, 83 K, 2.19 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
vs. TBA

The Phillies played a doubleheader yesterday and haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday or Thursday yet. Both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels pitched on Sunday, so expect a spot start from a minor leaguer.

Thursday: RH A.J. Burnett (8-2, 75.0 IP, 62 K, 3.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
vs. TBA RH Kyle Kendrick (2-7, 67.0 IP, 46 K, 5.24 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)

Kendrick pitched on Saturday so he’s my best guess for this spot.

No lineups yet.

Tigers Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 4-1 Win vs Detroit. A.J. wins his 8th. Box score.
Saturday: 4-1 Win vs Detroit. Cutch with the big blast. Box score.
Sunday: 3-2 Loss vs Detroit. 2 against Verlander not enough. Box score.

Season Record: 38-33, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 games back

Notes: The Bucs take two out of three from the Tigers to split their season series 3-3. The Pirates finish Interleague play with a 10-8 record, scoring 77 runs and allowing 66. Andrew McCutchen and Alex Presley were each on base five times. Pedro Alvarez continued his latest run of good at bats with three hits and a walk. Josh Harrison was the only position player to not get a hit. Michael McKenry threw out Austin Jackson in the third inning Sunday. It was the first time the Pirates have thrown out a baserunner since May 10. All three starting pitchers turned in quality starts. Despite his best outing of the month, Brad Lincoln is being moved back to the bullpen to make room for Jeff Karstens.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB     AVG     OBP
McCutchen, A, CF 11 1 4 3 1 3 2 0.364 0.417
Presley, LF 11 2 4 0 1 0 2 0.364 0.417
McGehee, 1B 10 1 1 0 0 5 7 0.100 0.100
Alvarez, 3B 9 2 3 0 1 4 1 0.333 0.400
Jones, G, RF, 1B 8 1 1 2 0 1 3 0.125 0.125
Walker, 2B 7 1 2 2 1 3 4 0.286 0.375
Barmes, SS 7 0 2 0 0 1 3 0.286 0.286
Harrison, SS, 2B 7 0 0 0 0 2 4 0.000 0.000
Barajas, C 6 1 2 0 0 0 4 0.333 0.333
Tabata, RF 4 1 1 0 0 2 0 0.250 0.250
McKenry, C 3 0 1 0 0 1 1 0.333 0.333
Hague, PH 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.500 0.500
Burnett, AJ, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Lincoln, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000
Correia, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0      —-      —-
   Totals 89 10 22 7 4 25 31 0.247 0.280

Batting
Doubles (3): Presley 2 (9), McGehee (8)
Home Runs (2): McCutchen (13), Jones (9)

BaseRunning
CS: Tabata (8), Walker (1)

Fielding
Double Plays: (Barmes-Walker-McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ(W, 8-2) 6.0 2 0 0 3 4 0 0.00 0.83
Lincoln(W, 4-2) 6.0 2 1 1 1 7 1 1.50 0.50
Correia 6.0 6 2 2 1 4 1 3.00 1.17
Grilli(H, 16, 17) 2.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan(S, 18,19) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3 0 0.00 1.00
Resop(L, 0-3) 2.0 1 1 1 2 1 0 4.50 1.50
Cruz, J(H, 12) 1.3 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Watson(H, 8, 9) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Hughes, J 0.7 2 1 1 1 0 0 13.50 4.50
  Totals 27.0 14 5 5 9 25 2 1.67 0.85

Transactions: Optioned IF Jordy Mercer to AAA. Recalled RHP Bryan Morris from AAA. Transferred RHP Charlie Morton from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. Claimed IF Drew Sutton off waivers from Tampa Bay.

Tommy John Expected for Charlie Morton

News started breaking this morning that Charlie Morton, on the DL with elbow discomfort, has a torn ligament and will likely need Tommy John surgery. If that is the case then he won’t be back until the middle of next season, with no guarantee of being effective right away.

This is a big blow for Morton and a big blow for the Pirates’ pitching depth. For now, the ream is saying that Brad Lincoln will remain in the rotation until Jeff Karstens is healthy. I suspect that Rudy Owens or Jeff Locke will be starting in the big leagues by early July.

Series Preview: The Orioles

Current record: 32-27, 1st place tie in NL Central, 0.0 games ahead

Up Next: Baltimore Orioles, 34-26, 3rd place in AL East, 1.0 game back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: The Orioles have been the surprise team of the AL this season, having spent 53 days in first place of the tough AL East. Like the Pirates, the O’s are finding their success despite having been outscored on the season 263-267. Also like the Pirates, they have a young All-Star center fielder leading the way. Adam Jones is hitting .298/.344/.571 with 17 home runs, 37 RBI and 9 steals. Anchoring the team behind the plate is a name all too familiar to Pirate fans: Matt Wieters. The Georgia Tech product has become one of the best catchers in the majors; just as it was thought he would back in 2007. Former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield passed on taking Wieters with the 4th pick, which is a big reason he is now the former GM.

Familiar Faces: Ronny Paulino, Steve Pearce, Dana Eveland

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: RH Brad Lincoln (3-1, 30.0 IP, 31 K, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
vs. LH Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 67.0 IP, 51 K, 3.49 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

The Bucs face Chens in back to back starts for what has to be the first time in their history. Wei-Yin (no relation to Bruce) has been a major addition for the O’s this season. Jeff Karstens strained his hip flexor in his last rehab start, so Lincoln will get at least one more turn.

Wednesday: RH Kevin Correia (2-5, 63.0 IP, 24 K, 4.29 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
vs. LH Brian Matusz (5-6, 65.1 IP, 50 K, 4.82 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)

Thursday: LH Erik Bedard (4-6, 62.2 IP, 61 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
vs. RH Tommy Hunter (2-3, 65.0 IP, 33 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Morton to DL, Cruz activated.

Moments ago on twitter:

@Pirates: RHP Juan Cruz has been reinstated from the Restricted List and RHP Charlie Morton goes on DL with right elbow inflammation (retro to May 30)

Monday’s off day means the team can skip Morton’s turn in the rotation and still keep everyone on normal rest. Jeff Karstens is expected to return from his rehab after another start or two.

Reds Wrap Up

Scores:
Monday: 4-1 Win vs Cincinnati. McDonald is the ace. Box score.
Tuesday: 8-1 Loss vs Cincinnati. Morton, Hughes not sharp. Box score.
Wednesday: 2-1 Win vs Cincinnati. Hague’s double supports Burnett. Box score.

Season Record: 25-25, 3rd place in NL Central, 3.0 games back

Notes: A 6-3 homestand gets the Bucs back to the .500 mark. Charlie Morton may get pulled from the rotation when Jeff Karstens comes off the DL. Doug Slaten threw a perfect inning in his Pirates debut. New SS Jordy Mercer had a hit in his first start. Rod Barajas went 3 for 7 and had three walks.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh  AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB     AVG     OBP
Alvarez, 3B 11 2 2 1 1 2 3 0.182 0.250
McCutchen, A, CF 11 0 2 0 0 2 5 0.182 0.182
Tabata, LF-RF 11 0 1 0 1 0 6 0.091 0.167
Hague, 1B 10 1 3 2 0 1 3 0.300 0.300
Jones, G, RF 10 1 3 1 0 3 1 0.300 0.300
Walker, 2B 10 2 2 1 2 3 4 0.200 0.333
Barajas, C 7 0 3 1 3 0 0 0.429 0.600
Mercer, SS 5 0 1 0 0 1 1 0.200 0.200
Barmes, SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0.000 0.000
Harrison, SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P 3 1 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 2 0 1 0 1 0 2 0.500 0.667
McGehee, 1B 2 0 1 1 0 0 1 0.500 0.500
Hernandez, Go, LF 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.000
Morton, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 93 7 19 7 8 15 33 0.204 0.267

Batting
Doubles (5): Alvarez 2 (9), Walker (8), Hague 2 (2)
Triples (2): McCutchen (2), Jones (1)

BaseRunning
SB: Hernandez, Go (1)

Fielding
Errors: Harrison (1), Alvarez (10), Walker (3)
Double Plays: (Alvarez-Walker-Hague), (Harrison-Walker-Hague), (Mercer-Walker-Hague)

Pitching

Pittsburgh     IP    H     R   ER  BB  SO  HR    ERA   WHIP
McDonald, J (W, 4-2) 8.0 5 0 0 1 5 0 0.00 0.75
Burnett, AJ (W, 4-2) 7.0 2 1 0 2 3 0 0.00 0.57
Morton (L, 2-6) 4.0 6 4 4 1 0 0 9.00 1.75
Grilli (H, 12) 2.0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0.00 0.50
Hanrahan (S, 12,13) 1.3 2 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 1.50
Lincoln 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Slaten 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Resop 1.0 1 1 1 2 1 0 9.00 3.00
Hughes, J 1.0 5 3 3 0 1 0 27.00 5.00
Watson 0.7 1 1 1 1 1 0 13.50 3.00
  Totals 27.0 22 10 9 8 16 0 3.00 1.11

Transactions: Placed RHP Juan Cruz on the Restricted List. Called up LHP Doug Slaten from AAA. Optioned IF/OF Yamaico Navarro to AAA. Recalled IF Jordy Mercer from
AAA.

April Recap

The Pirates finished April with a 10-12 record. They got there by winning two in a row twice, losing five in a row once and alternating wins and losses the rest of the time.

The story of the month was pitching, both for the Pirates and their opponents. Pirates pitchers held the Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Rockies and Braves to 66 runs in 22 games, or 3.0 runs per game. Similarly, the Pirates bats were also held in check. Pittsburgh hitters scored only 58 runs in the month: 2.64/game.

One place the pitching was noticibly better is in striking out opponents. Bucs’ pitchers struck out 7.1 batters per 9 innings in April. Last season they struck out 6.4/9 innings in March/April and had a high mark of 6.9 K/9 in July. Newcomers Erik Bedard (8.1 K/9) and A.J. Burnett (10.1) have a lot to do with the higher number, as does Jeff Karstens‘ injury keeping him off the mound (3.8).

Pirates’ April opponents had a combined .570 winning percentage (90-68). That’s like playing a playoff team every game for a month. The only team on the schedule under .500 was 11-12 Philadelphia. May’s schedule should be easier. The teams on the docket combined for only a 113-110 record (.507) in April.

Other Notes:

The Pirates won three series, lost three series and split one.

Record vs
NL East: 4-3, 24 RS, 21 RA (3.43 RS/G, 3.0 RA/G)
NL Central: 1-2, 4 RS, 9 RA (1.33 RS/G, 3.0 RA/G)
NL West: 5-7, 30 RS, 36 RA (2.50 RS/G, 3.0 RA/G)

Home: 5-4, 22 RS, 22 RA (2.44 RS/G, 2.44 RA/G)
Away: 5-8, 36 RS, 44 RA (2.77 RS/G, 3.38 RA/G)

1 Run games: 5-6
2 Run games: 2-0
3 Run games: 1-2
4 Run games: 1-2
5 Run games: 0-2
6 Run games: 1-0

Summary: The Pirates are probably an average team and in April they played like one; sometimes good, sometimes bad, usually somewhere in between. Theoretically, the upcoming easier schedule should allow them to get a few extra wins and go back above .500.

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